Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Why I Do

Posted: February 24, 2010 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments »

A lot of people have been talking lately about why we cook. Michael Ruhlman posted on his blog recently about why he cooks, and prompted his readers to respond in the comments, with why THEY cook. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. The simple answer, I guess, is because I love it.
The clearer, more honest answer, is because I love. I don’t mean necessarily because I’m in love; more because I love people. One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that in large part, I will never be able to tell the people I love how much I love them in words. I try. But I live with someone who is completely open about his feelings with me. I end up stumbling, or feeling like I can’t come up with the words. I cook because I can express love clearly, concisely, succinctly. If I invite you over for dinner, or offer you brownies or cookies on your birthday, I am saying to you, as clearly as I know how, that I care about you and want to show you, because lord knows I’ll never be able to tell you.

I cook because sometimes life gets a little too much. Because sometimes the rituals and steps and processes of the kitchen take my mind off whatever might be going on in my life. I’ve mentioned before that my stove is my therapist, and that when things go awry, I spend 30 minutes or 45 minutes in the kitchen, and when I come out, my head is clear and my issues don’t seem so big anymore. Even the stack of dishes that I always manage to build up doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

Sometimes, I cook because I’m worried. Because I’m afraid and I’m worried about bad news. I cook at those times somewhat selfishly, taking comfort in the smell of melting butter, refuge in the feel of flour and salt, egg whites slipping through my fingers. I hide in my kitchen, and I cushion myself from the fear and the uncertainty in my life with things like baking cookies or roasting a chicken or making soup.

And sometimes….. sometimes you get wonderful news. Sometimes things are better than you could imagine, and whatever fear drove me to my butter and sugar, whatever concern lead me to crushing Heath bars or toasting walnuts has reversed itself, and everything is better than ok.

Welcome to the world, Natalie Claire Harper. I will always remember this batch of chocolate chip cookies, which I was in the middle of baking for your parents (among others) when I heard about your birth. I am so glad you’re here. I’m so glad you and your lovely mama are ok. I cannot wait to meet you.

Why do you cook? Who do you cook for? When do you cook and when do you not cook? What are you saying when you cook?

6 Comments on “Why I Do”

  1. 1 Mom J said at 9:20 am on February 25, 2010:

    You can cook for me anytime, because I will never get enough of you saying you love your mommy!! Best words and actions I’ve ever experienced. Love and hugs are the best….. method of delivery doesn’t matter!!!! I love you my Posie Pie!!! Congrats and love to the Harper family!!!!

  2. 2 Adi said at 11:26 am on February 26, 2010:

    I am in love with a) your beautiful yellow mixer!! and b) your ADORABLE apron, and c) OM NOM NOM COOKIES.

    Also, welcome, Natalie. There’s a lot wrong with this world, but with people like Josie, there’s a lot RIGHT, too <3

  3. 3 Bakezilla said at 5:03 pm on February 26, 2010:

    Aww, Joh, you’re always so sweet to everybody. Glad to hear that Natalie and Leah are doing alright!

  4. 4 Jesse said at 7:13 pm on February 28, 2010:

    Me gusta.

  5. 5 leah said at 9:40 pm on February 28, 2010:

    auntie joh!!!! i’m finally catching up on my computer-life and i can’t tell you how overcome with emotion i am with your sweet dedication to my little girl! we can’t wait to nom on the cookies from your kitchen and heart. thank you, friend!

  6. 6 Nishta said at 4:36 pm on March 3, 2010:

    I love this. why we do what we do–you’re so dead on. welcome Ms. Natalie!

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Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

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